Skip to main content

tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  May 21, 2014 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

6:00 pm
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> whether it's allegations of v.a. staff covering up long wait times, or cooking the books, i will not stand for it. not as commander-in-chief, but also, not as an american. >> woodruff: president obama today confronted the mounting outrage over federal oversight of veterans affairs, with a promise of accountability, while pressing his v.a. secretary to get the embattled department in order. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill, also ahead this wednesday. margaret warner reports from eastern ukraine, where a prosperous businessman, aided by his steelworkers, pushes back against pro-russian separatists. >> woodruff: plus: the story of
6:01 pm
a program bringing dance to thousands of children in new mexico's public schools. and teaching valuable life lessons with each and every routine. >> work hard, do your best, never give up, and be healthy. we think if you do those things, whether you're learning a dance step, taking a math test, or applying for a job, that's what it takes to be successful. >> woodruff: those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
6:02 pm
>> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: the u.s. military has stepped up the search for more than 270 school girls kidnapped
6:03 pm
in nigeria. president obama told congress today that 80 troops are being deployed to neighboring chad. they'll help with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights over northern nigeria. the islamist group boko haram abducted the girls last month, and today, its fighters killed 48 people in three northern villages. yesterday, bombings in central nigeria killed 118 people. >> woodruff: there was heavy new fighting in libya today, amid fears of growing chaos. the combat came near a main camp and military barracks outside tripoli. this morning, fires were still burning from midnight rocket attacks that killed two people. about 200 people were evacuated from the area. it was unclear who was involved in the fighting, but a renegade general, khalifa hifter, has launched a campaign against islamist influence in libya. >> ifill: democrats in the house of representatives have decided to join a new investigation of the attack on u.s. diplomats in benghazi, libya.
6:04 pm
four americans, including the u.s. ambassador, were killed there in 2012. now, a republican-led select committee will investigate, the eighth probe to date. minority leader nancy pelosi acknowledged today that some in her ranks wanted to boycott the effort. >> i could have argued this either way, why give any validity to this effort but i do think it is important for the american people to have a pursuit of these questions done in as fair and open way as possible. that simply would not be possible leaving it to republicans. >> ifill: republicans have charged the white house misled the public about what happened in benghazi. the obama administration denies it. >> woodruff: in afghanistan, taliban attacks left at least 21 people dead. ten police officers and three civilians were killed in gun battles and bombs in several provinces.
6:05 pm
villagers also found the bodies of eight policemen abducted two weeks ago. afghanistan faces a presidential run-off election next month. >> ifill: former egyptian president hosni mubarak was sentenced to three years in prison today, for stealing public funds. mubarak appeared in a defendants' cage in a cairo court, along with his two sons. they were given four years each on the same charges of embezzlement. news of the sentences prompted sharply different reactions across the egyptian capital. >> ( translated ): why should he get three years? this is unfair, there is no evidence in the case, hosni mubarak and his sons have done nothing, and his sons gamal and alaa are the most honorable people in egypt. >> ( translated ): they should have sentenced them to more than three or four years. he ruled us for a long time, and left us broke and poverty- stricken and sick. >> ifill: another court sentenced 155 muslim brotherhood supporters to jail. they were convicted of violence
6:06 pm
after president mohammed morsi was deposed last july. >> woodruff: china and russia signed a $400 billion natural gas deal today. russian president vladimir putin and chinese president xi jinping were on hand in shanghai, to witness the signing ceremony between their two state-controlled gas agencies. the deal is a boost for putin as he faces western sanctions over russia's actions in ukraine. >> ifill: back in this country, the transportation department called for airlines to do a better job letting passengers know how much it will actually cost to fly. proposed new rules would spell out add-on fees, including the cost of a first and second checked bag, assigned seats and carry-ons. currently, only bag fees have to be disclosed, but even then, the airline does not have to give an exact price. >> woodruff: on wall street, stocks made up much of yesterday's lost ground. the dow jones industrial average gained more than 158 points to close at 16,533. the nasdaq rose 34 points to close at 4131.
6:07 pm
and the s-and-p 500 added 15, to finish at 1,888. still to come on the newshour: president obama's promise of accountability at the v.a.; takeaways from last night's congressional primaries; how some ukrainian steelworkers are pushing back at separatists; what's behind the wave of auto recalls by g.m.; and a program teaching kids valuable life lessons through dance. >> ifill: president obama pledged support for embattled veterans affairs secretary eric shinseki today, but warned that there will be accountability at the agency if allegations against the v.a. are proven true. >> ifill: the president came to the white house briefing room to pledge he'll get to the bottom of what's wrong at the v.a. >> i will not stand for it, not as commander in chief, but also
6:08 pm
not as an american. none of us should. so if these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and i will not tolerate it, period. >> ifill: these allegations include falsifying records to cover up long wait times. overnight, the v.a. inspector general expanded his investigation to 26 v.a. facilities, up from ten last week. ground zero is this v.a. hospital in phoenix, arizona, where, it's been claimed, 40 veterans died while awaiting care. this morning, president obama met privately with v.a. secretary eric shinseki, who faced a senate hearing last week, amid calls for him to resign. >> any adverse incident like this, makes me mad as hell. >> ifill: mr. obama defended
6:09 pm
shinseki's overall work but said someone will be held accountable for any shortcomings. >> if you ask me, you know, how do i think eric shinseki has performed overall, i would say that on homelessness, on the 9/11 g.i. bill, on working with us to reduce the backlog across the board, he has put his heart and soul into this thing and he has taken it very seriously. >> ifill: lawmakers from both parties said more needs to be done. south dakota senator john thune. >> tough words just aren't enough when it comes to this issue. we need action. and they are looking at some specific sites around the country. i happen to believe, and i've got a bill that calls for a nationwide investigation by the i.g. because i think this is not an isolated instance. this is systemic. >> ifill: the president drew mixed reaction from veterans' groups. in a statement, the veterans of foreign wars said:
6:10 pm
on capitol hill, the house moved to set aside civil service protections and give the v.a. secretary more power to fire or demote top executives in the department. he would be the only cabinet member with that authority. a similar measure has been filed in the senate. >> ifill: how has the obama administration handled this veterans wait list issue? we have two views. retired army brigadier general david mcginnis was a member of admirals and generals for obama in 2008. he held a senior job at the defense department during the obama administration's first term, and is active in veteran health issues. and joseph violante is national legislative director at disabled
6:11 pm
american veterans, an advocacy organization with 1.2 million members. welcome you both, gentlemen. >> good evening. >> ifill: how widespread do you think the problem is? >> it's systemic. it goes beyond just medical care. there's a serious culture issue within v.a. there's an attitude within v.a. that they're exempt from congressional action and from the executive, from the president's executive orders, and there's plenty of evidence of that during this administration and beyond back two or three administrations, and i think they become conditioned that they really don't have to do what the secretary and the president tells them to do. and i'm talking about the mid-level, professional executives that the bill in the
6:12 pm
house is targeted at. >> ifill: joseph violante, do you think it's as serious as he thinks? >> i think it's serious and we'll find out as the investigations go forward just how widespread it is. i disagree with some of the comments david made. the v.a. employees that i've met from around the country are very dedicated individuals looking to help veterans. the biggest problem here is the funding issues. once you get into the v.a. healthcare system, the quality of care is excellent. access into that system is difficult, and it's been shortchanged over the last few years by $7.8 billion. >> ifill: the last ten years have been a decade of war as the president made the point today. has this exacerbated things? >> i think it exacerbated the system because it was the system was designed for a restrictive army who came back and went to
6:13 pm
the civilian world, where in the early part of the 20t 20th century, didn't have a lot of medical care. now we have the same system used to be self-contained and focused internally and used to treating veterans who came to them. they don't understand outreach. they don't understand the secretary's guidance to, if you can't handle people in the medical condition in 14 days, go out into the civilian economy, go to civilian providers. and 7 days for mental health. neither one of the standards are being met today. >> ifill: joseph violante, if there's the problem we see being investigated now about these wait lists, do we know if it stops there? is it beyond? is it systemic? >> it's a good question. you have to go back to 2001 when president bush established a task force to look at the delivery of healthcare for veterans and they reported in may of 2003, the wars in their
6:14 pm
early infancy in 2003, and at that point in time, they found a wait list of 236,000 veterans waiting six months or more for healthcare, and they found a mismatch in demand in funding. so this has gone on for a long time. it is a problem. but, again, the problem of access is a funding issue that needs to be addressed. >> ifill: i just want to ask about the wait list question because the white house said the number actually has gone down. >> the number has gone down. the number has gone down to some extent with the processing of applications for benefits. but the internal problem that we have is that -- and i disagree with joe on this -- is they have gotten more money, number one. and number two is the shift in priorities. the internal attitude is if you want me to do more, give me more money. instead of looking at this is the new world order. both of us are vietnam veterans
6:15 pm
from our generation and we realize now we need the v.a. we went 30 years without realizing that, or longer. also you have a new group of veterans coming in and we haven't adjusted the priorities inside the v.a. to spend the money appropriately. we have a lot of staffing problems with medical staff across v.a. which is indicated in this particular issue in arizona. i have a case i'm working in hampton, virginia, where we don't have enough staffing in a particular discipline so that veterans can get the appointments they need to get taken care of. >> ifill: if these concerns have been long documented, i guess the elephant in the room is whether secretary shinseki should have done more about it and if not should he be forced to resign? >> secretary shinseki has done a lot to turn things around. he reduced the claims backlog, he's looking into this situation with regards to the wait times
6:16 pm
on the health care. he's trying to eliminate homelessness among veterans. there's been a lot going on since he's come in and, again, the funding issue existed long before he came in. the problem with demand and access has existed for a long time. i do agree v.a. has gotten a lot of money and there may be a need to look at how effectively they're spending it, but there is still a mismatch between demand and funding. >> ifill: is there housecleaning necessary at the v.a.? >> oh, i think there is, but i would like to see the investigation go beyond the inspector general. one of the members of the senate committee and my group and myself have been working with the committees in the house and the senate and their staffs and one of the committee members last week in the meeting with general shinseki recommended involving the f.b.i. i would support a special prosecutor because i think this has gone on a long time.
6:17 pm
there's a lot of duplicity and deception here and i think that we, the veterans and gen. shinseki and the veterans have been victimized. >> ifill: the question, at its root are veterans, many who made huge sacrifices for their country, are they being victimized because of thisser problems left unaddressed? >> if they're getting care, they're not being victimized. they're getting quality care. getting into the system is a problem and that needs to be addressed. again, we need to ensure the v.a. has the resources necessary to do that, and that they're spending the resources wisely. >> ifill: final thought. think it's important that we realize americans need to come up with -- need to support a solution that changes what's going on today in the v.a. it's that simple. and i think that the president's call for everybody to come
6:18 pm
together, make this a -- and veterans have never been a part of this issue, whether at the state or federal level, and i hope they will all come together and put together some type of discussion and come to a decision, the president and the two committee chairmen come to a decision on what we need to do and jam it through. >> ifill: david mcginnis and joseph violante, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: next, to politics, and the results from tuesday's primary elections. republican voters in kentucky, georgia and oregon gave a boost to candidates favored by the establishment, and to the party's chances of taking back control of the senate. >> woodruff: nowhere was the strength of the g.o.p. establishment more evident than in kentucky, where senate minority leader mitch mcconnell crushed tea party challenger matt bevin by 25 points. >> a tough race is behind us. it's time to unite.
6:19 pm
>> woodruff: mcconnell will face democrat alison lundergan grimes in november, in what may be one of the most expensive, and contentious, races this year, as republicans seek to win back the senate. >> there's a reason, my friends, a reason every hollywood liberal is sending her a check. it's not because they care about kentucky. i assure you that. it's because they know as we do that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between a candidate who puts harry reid in charge, and harry reid himself. >> woodruff: grimes, meanwhile, released a television ad today insisting she would be an independent voice in washington. >> i'm running because i believe we need a senator who puts partisanship aside and works with both democrats and republicans to do what's right for kentucky, and our country. and no matter who the president is, i won't answer to them.
6:20 pm
i'll only answer to you. >> woodruff: the republican brass also got its preferred senate candidate in oregon, where pediatric neurosurgeon monica wehby, who is pro- abortion rights, defeated a more conservative opponent. they hope she can stretch the political map and challenge democratic senator jeff merkley in the fall. in georgia, businessman david perdue and congressman jack kingston, two candidates also favored by the republican establishment, advanced to a july runoff. the winner will face democrat michelle nunn, daughter of former senator sam nunn. >> who we send to washington matters. changing the culture of washington, building out relationships. i pledge to meet with every senator in the first year. i want to find common ground. >> woodruff: in the race for georgia governor, democrat jason carter, grandson of former president jimmy carter, will take on republican incumbent nathan deal. and in pennsylvania, businessman
6:21 pm
tom wolf easily won the democratic gubernatorial primary. >> woodruff: his fall opponent will be republican tom corbett, one of the party's most vulnerable incumbents. >> woodruff: with us now, two reporters who follow politics about as closely as one can: jonathan martin of the new york times and dan balz of the washington post. welcome to you both. back to the program. >> thank you. >> woodruff: so, dan, let's start by talking about the republicans, kentucky, the senate minority leader who wants to be the senate majority leader, mitch mcconnell, pretty much coasted to renomination. what was that all about? >> well, he told jonathan's newspaper two months ago they were going to crush the tea party everywhere and he led the way last night. i don't think anybody thought it was a surprise he won but i think the margin was more impressive than some people thought he might do. and the thing we know about senator mcconnell is he is a tough, tough, tough campaigner,
6:22 pm
and he demonstrated that in this race and put matt bevin behind him and is now focused squarely on alison grimes and this race going into the fall is going to be a repeat of that, very tough race. >> woodruff: jonathan, were the force at work in kentucky the same things at work in georgia helping the mainstream republicans there in oregon or are we talking about something different? >> i think each state is a little unique because the races with incumbents, those have been there 30 years, are always different than open races. but you see republicans learning mistakes of the recent election cycles in which they didn't put enough care into nominating some of these candidates. it's not pure ideology, it's also the quality of the candidates and the nature of the campaigns and i think those were their candidates who were raising more money, who were smarter and scheuer about how they approached the campaigns are doing better. in some cases, the candidates
6:23 pm
are more conservative. >> woodruff: and, dan, it's not that the conservatives don't feel every bit as passionate about what they believe, is it? >> no, not at all, and we spent most of the spring talking about the narrative of the tea party versus the establishment and in most weeks we've declared the establishment the winner, but it's a more complicated story than that, and part of it is, as jonathan said, the establishment has figured out how to run these races. they recognized that they made some mistakes by if not allowing some candidates, but not paying enough attention to these races before, you could argue that they would have five more seats in the senate now if they had done in previous years what they'd done this year, but the other aspect of this is the tea party in many ways has sort of bent the establishment to its corner of ideological spectrum and, so, as speaker boehner said this week, there is not a huge
6:24 pm
difference in a lot of ways on many of these issues as some people think. there are stylestic differences, issues of how you comport yourself in washington, but on most of the big issues that this campaign will be fought out over, the tea party and the establishment are pretty much in the same place. >> you're nodding your head. i was talking to a long-time conservative warrior today who said the problem to have the press narrative is you guys are stuck in 1985 with charles percy and ed brook, they're moderate to liberal republicans! and the fact is it's a conservative party now. the conservatives for the most part took over the party in the last 30 years and fur and fewer mod rats, most have become democrats. there are still a few but the differences ideologically have shrunk sh returning over the years. so you have the primaries that are much more about tactics and personalities. >> i was going to say, as jonathan said, candidate quality makes a difference and there have been races in which tea
6:25 pm
party candidates have been better. we were talking about ben in nebraska who is a tea party candidate with establishment pedigrees. in texas in 2012, ted cruz was a better candidate than the person he defeated the lieutenant governor. >> and you have to figure out who will be falling into my camp because all sound conservative on the campaign trail but, when they show up, obviously, there are nuances in how they vote and approach different bills. but on the campaign trail, there are very few mod rat moderates t there. >> woodruff: and your editorial, you still have some of the same conservative values in these candidates. i guess my question is dan and jonathan, if they are -- if the party has bent to the right, why
6:26 pm
wouldn't that give democrats more of the hope? if democrats -- if you assume you need to move to the mainstream to win, then -- >> well, there's quite a bit of hope every four years during the white house campaign because they've won five out of the last six popular votes for president. the challenge is, in these off-year elections, the nature of the electorate is far different looking than the presidential campaigns, especially this year because the map where the senate races are being fought is largely red america and that puts democrats in a tough spot. a natural sort of smaller electorate combined with the fact the terrain is tough for them. >> i think the one thing the democrats have been hoping for is a repeat of what they saw in 2012 and -- in 2010 and 2012 is the weaker candidates emerging. i talked to a democrat who said one thing she's worried about is
6:27 pm
they're facing a more united right, a more united, conservative mov movement this r than in 2012. >> woodruff: that being the case, what is the strategy for democrats? we see in kentucky alison grimes is saying i'm an independent, not tied to harry reid. >> well, in that kind of race, it's about making the campaign about mitch mcconnell and his record. the other races, we've got either an incumbent democrat or open seat, it will vary. but you're absolutely right, these democrats are looking for different keys in the races and haven't gotten them. >> woodruff: is part of the salvation, is there any hope for democrats because we're painting bleak prospects, dan, changing the turnout? >> that's what they're hoping to do. i think their belief is a number of these candidates who have, in a sense, moved to the right will be less acceptable to the population at large, but the truth of the matter is most of these tough races are being
6:28 pm
fought in red states, so that's not necessarily going to work. but i think they're other hope is, particularly in races where democratic incumbents are in trouble, that some of these candidates have yet to really be fully defined to the electorate at large and they're going to test them over the next few months, they're going to push them, they're going to see whether these candidates really are up for general elections. >> woodruff: so what makes the difference? money, the message, a combination of all the above? >> oh, i think it's going to be the national environment. can president obama improve his standing or does he fall? a lot of these races typically turn on where the president is, look at 1998, the economy was going great guns, therefore, bill clinton was popular despite the overwhelming scandal around him and d.p.s. did well. >> the fundamentals are not good for the democrats, so they're trying to move things at the margins. the president's approval rating
6:29 pm
goes from the 43, 44 range to 46, 47, the democrats will breathe easier. if the economy picks up steam, democrats will feel bert. those kinds of things. >> woodruff: dan balz, jonathan martin, great to have you both. >> thank you. >> ifill: the russian defense ministry claimed today that troops on the ukrainian border were heading to train stations and airfields, returning to their home bases. but n.a.t.o. said it saw no sign of a pullout. in troubled eastern ukraine, the nation's wealthiest man is trying to bring stability to one city, by opening his pocket book. chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner has that story. >> warner: smokestacks dominate the horizon of mariupol, belching acrid smoke from the heavy industries that are the economic lifeblood of this seaside southeast ukrainian city near the russian border. but it was real blood spilled 11 days ago in a gun battle at a
6:30 pm
police station, under still disputed circumstances, leaving up to 20 dead, that made mariupol the latest flashpoint in the standoff between russian- backed eastern separatists and the central government in kiev. kiev had sent elite forces here to reassert control, and they and their tanks still maintain checkpoints on the city's outskirts. but now there's a new security game in town. the overwhelmed local police, who've been forced to this new precinct across town, have been joined by thousands of steelworkers in patrolling the streets. this morning, they were lining up in their new standard formation: two blue-hats, and six hardhats. 46-year-old sergiy boev, a former red army soldier, is one of the plant workers now walking the beat. his day job is with metinvest, a huge metals firm. he remains on salary, but has volunteered. >> ( translated ): i served in afghanistan long ago, and i don't want war here. i have three kids, and i don't them to die
6:31 pm
>> warner: the political tensions over whether the eastern donestk region should break away from ukraine was ruining daily life, with growing crime, stealing, looting, disorder. now, he says, it's better. >> people are positive towards us, are greeting us, and are calmer. >> warner: so they trust you because you're one of them? >> ( translated ): yes. >> warner: 25-year-old police lieutenant igor lysenko, on the same patrol, agreed. he said the crime rate has already dropped. >> ( translated ): with the extra help, we can send out more patrols. >> warner: all this is the brainchild of rinat akhmetov, ukraine's richest man, the country's bill gates, except he made his billions in iron and steel, not software. with deep business interests in ukraine and russia, after sitting on the fence for many months in the struggle between moscow and kiev, last week he jumped in with this new plan, and yesterday made an impassioned televised appearance denouncing the separatists' effect on his beloved donbass
6:32 pm
industrial region. >> ( translated ): you will not intimidate us. nobody will intimidate us. including those who call themselves so-called donetsk people's republic. tell me please, does anyone in donbass know at least one representative of this d.p.r.? what have they done for our region? >> warner: he said he'd fund his plant workers to restore order, and urged citizens to stand up too. >> warner: american and european officials are totally behind what akhmetov has launched in mariopol, and would like to see the model spread to other east ukraine cities where armed separatists have taken hold. in their view, given the mutual hostilities now infecting the east, this the oligarch's unconventional approach, with some behind the scenes help from kiev, may be the best chance to keep the lid on here until sunday's crucial presidential election. that power was on display yesterday at one of his medinvest plants, the ilyicha metal works, as thousands of it's 28,000 workers gathered at
6:33 pm
noon for what the people's warning protest akhmetov called for. this plant manager told his workers that the company had always avoided politics but now felt compelled to act for economic reasons. if ukraine gets caught in a grey zone between europe and russia, he said, it will be hit with sanctions, see its markets dry up and have to lay workers off. plant employee irina shevchuk was convinced. he's seen men with guns in streets, she said, and heard gunshots in the night. her motive isn't political, she said, but about quality of life. >> ( translated ): i was born in russia but have always been for an independent ukraine. >> warner: but despite akhmetov's power, we found the separatist donestsk people's republic alive and well in mariupol. their near the city center, barricaded in a controlled zone of their own. political leader aleksandr kiselev boasted of organization the recent referendum endorsing independence for donetsk. >> ( translated ): our goal is the welfare of our people. we don't want to follow kiev and join the e.u. we want to join the former
6:34 pm
soviet states custom union, the union of slavic peoples. >> warner: just up the street kiselev's military counterpart, commander andrey borisov, was receiving worried family members looking for their lost son. >> warner: who are you defending against? >> we are protecting all the people of mariupol against the junta in kiev. accusing the separatist leaders of deception and urging the people of the entire eastern donetsk region to push back against them. >> many ask what is next. fight, fight and fight again for your happiness. your present and your future. >> ifill: and the best way to fight back, he's been saying is to vote in sunday's presidential election. and what of the ordinary people of mariupol?
6:35 pm
are they going to vote? you lasaid yes to both. >> ( translated ): things are much calmer than they were four days ago, since the tanks were taken away from the city. the joint patrols helping keep the city safe. >> warner: she didn't like kiev sending in tanks but just yearns for a return to normal life. as so many others told us they do too. >> woodruff: general motors announced yet another vehicle recall today. it's part of what has become a wave of safety alerts the company has issued in recent weeks. jeffry brown has the story. >> brown: the latest addition to g.m.'s ever-growing list: 218,000 chevrolet aveo's recalled just this morning. they have a dashboard lighting module that could overheat and catch fire. a day earlier, the company told customers to bring in nearly 2.5 million vehicles for seat belt,
6:36 pm
gear shifter, and other mechanical problems. it all started in january, with nearly 2.6 million vehicles recalled, for ignition switch defects going back a decade, and linked to 13 deaths. g.m.'s new c.e.o. mary barra faced senators in april. >> sitting here today, i cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced in that program, but i can tell you that we will find out. >> brown: by now, g.m. has called back nearly 14 million vehicles, the most ever in a single year. the 29 separate actions include: last thursday's recall of 2.7 million chevrolet, saturn and cadillac models for taillight and other malfunctions. the march 13th recall of 1.7 million buick, g.m.c. and chevrolet vehicles for brake and airbag problems. and the march 31st recall of 1.3 million chevrolets, saturns and pontiacs for power steering issues.
6:37 pm
last friday, the government fined g.m. $35 million for concealing the ignition switch problem. transportation secretary anthony foxx. >> what we cannot tolerate, what we will never accept, is a person or company that knows danger exists and says nothing, literally, silence can kill. >> brown: the company's new safety chief, jeff boyer, acknowledges the investigation prompted the avalanche of other actions. he told the associated press: we're not waiting for warranty trends to develop over time. in the meantime, g.m. has conducted its own investigation of the ignition switch issue, but has not yet released any results. that's expected to be released in the coming weeks >> brown: we look at the re- calls and the impact on g.m., with erik gordon, a professor at the university of michigan ross school of business. and daniel hill, president of ervin-hill strategy, a public
6:38 pm
relations firm here in washington. erik gordon erik gordon, let me start with you. what are we to make of this run of recalls, some even very small. what's happening from a business perspective? >> well, it's a disaster for general motors. it's damaging their reputation, will end up damaging their sales, hurt their stock price, and i think the damages will last a long time. >> brown: and what do you see them doing in drawing out these recalls at the moment? >> you know, i think the game of drawing out the recalls and, you know, announcing recalls in a way they hadn't previously done is to try to get everything out and over with and to avoid having more explosions. i think the thing that makes g.m. look the worst is not that there are problems with cars. the cars are big, complex things. there are going to be problems with cars. it's the idea that g.m. has been covering things up.
6:39 pm
so the last thing g.m. wants is to have another event come up they haven't disclosed. it just makes them look terrible. >> brown: daniel, what do you see from a public perspective? >> it's huge. toyota is still dealing with litigation from their issues in 2009 and 2010. the scale of this, the impact on the public, the inconvenience, the safety issues, it's going to take g.m. many, many years to -- >> brown: i was wondering about the toyota example. reputation-wise, years later, is that still how toyota sees it as a potential impact for g.m.? >> the difference is toyota started with a better reputation to begin with. they were seen as a quality automaker at the time of their crisis. g.m. was on the recovery to that and its brand and reputation improved dramatically, but
6:40 pm
people can still remember the old g.m. where safety and quality were not as good and, so, people start defaulting -- consumers start to defaulting to the old g.m. when they think about this "new g.m.." >> brown: erik gordon erik gordon, what about the spoons so far? the response to changing some of the safety issues that they've talked about at the company? >> i think they've done some things well and i think they've done some things not to well. what they've done well is stepped forward and said we will take responsibility for accident victims, even though it's not clear they have the legal responsibility, they've stepped up to the moral responsibility. i think they've done that well. i think what they haven't done so well is they haven't acted like a new g.m. they refer to themselves as the new g.m. but they act more like the old g.m. they ore not acting transparently. the c.e.o. is unable or refused
6:41 pm
to answer questions in congress. they won't answer questions until their own internal investigation is done. so they've got part of it right, and i think they're botching up part of it. >> brown: well, daniel hill, in fact, inevitably, the new c.e.o. and first woman to head the company, is much of the focus of this. >> yeah, and i think they made a calculated risk that is going to backfire and that is putting her out in front of this crisis very early on. if i were advising the company, i would have said she should have appointed someone to oversee that part of g.m. while she works on the future and leading the company going forward. now she's dragged into this crisis so much it's going to be hard for her to do the other thing. so it's a huge distraction on top of all the challenges that the situation brings. >> brown: as the new person, doesn't she have to be out there leading and responding to the public in a moment like this?
6:42 pm
>> i think she can do that and also not drag her self into the day-to-day problems the crises caused for the companies and give herself enough distance in terms of owning it for the company. >> brown: erik gordon, put it in the larger perspective of g.m. over recent years. we've had the bankruptcy and the government help, and the story we've covered on this program in the last number of years is a largely positive story about g.m. and the american auto industry, until this. >> you know, it's really sad. it was like g.m. was a corvette convertible going down the road at a nice clip, sunny day, the wind in your hair, things were looking pretty good, then all of a sudden the wheels fall off and you're in the ditch. i think it's going to be hard for g.m. to get that momentum
6:43 pm
back because the more recent history hasn't been so pleasant. the timing couldn't be worse for general motors. >> brown: in what way? well, you want to build on that momemtum. you wasn't to put the bankruptcy behind you, you want to put the image of the old g.m. behind you. you want to bring out new cars. you have a new c.e.o. you really wanted things to build up, not to stall. i mean, literally and figuratively for the company. i mean, how many new g.m.s can you take in a couple of years? it's going to be hard for them to get that new company image back and hard for them internally to get that kind of momemtum going again. >> brown: what do you think of that, daniel? how many new g.m.s can the public take? >> right, well, they could try new g.m. 2.0 or i think what they will try to do is try to
6:44 pm
convince the public the new g.m. we're seeing today is actually the old g.m. and they're going to try to roll this one under the bus and start fresh once they get the recalls out of the way. and the problem with the recall situation they face now is they want to take this rip the band-aid approach, get it all out of the way, but they're ripping the band-aid off too slowly. so it's not really as effective as i think they would like and i don't think we've seen the end of it yet. >> brown: speaking of the end, what is next? there are lawsuits out there, their own internal investigation which apparently could come within a few weeks. >> and the big one is the looming criminal potential, that there would be a big criminal fine from the government the same way toyota faced and also the potential for political issue -- do candidates running for office start tying the g.m. crisis into the healthcare discussion? that's what you get when the government interferes in private sector business. >> brown: do you think it
6:45 pm
could play out like that? >> i do. i could see republicans making an issue in this in the mid-term election saying the government intervened with this company and this is what you could look forward to with your healthcare. it could drag on. >> brown: erik gordon and daniel hill, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> ifill: finally tonight, the obama administration has used part of this week to showcase arts and education, making the case that exposure to dance, music and other expressions can improve student achievement. special correspondent kathleen mccleery profiles a dance program in new mexico that's done just that, in and out of the classroom. it's part of our american graduate series, a public media initiative funded by the corporation for public broadcasting. and over the top. the warmup, the makeup, the
6:46 pm
the proud parent streaming in, looks like the usual end of the year recital, but this one is a little different. it's the culmination of a year's work at the national dance institute of new mexico, a program that aims to engage and motivate children to strive for excellence using the arts. 74% of the dancers come from low-income families. 85% are either hispanic or native american. katherine oppenheimer is the program's founding artistic director. >> we target the schools and communities that need our presence the most, so that means high poverty, rural, isolated. the cities, too, but kids who wouldn't otherwise have an opportunity to experience this kind of program. >> reporter: oppenheimer once performed with the new york city ballet and with legendary classic dancer jacques. he started the national dance institute in new york to expose inner city children to ballet,
6:47 pm
convinced oppenheimer to teach and eventually bring the program to new mexico. they offered lessons this past year to nearly 8,000 children in more than 80 public schools across the state. >> this is the perfect counted eight! she's smiling, her hands are out -- >> reporter: fourth and fifth graders are taught during the school day. after school, lessons for older, more advanced dancers and pre-schoolers. most classes are free of charge to students and no one is turned away because his or her family can't pay. it costs about $5 million a year to run the organization. some of that money is raised at galas like this one in santa fe. support comes from foundations, local businesses and individual donors. executive director russell baker explains the mission. >> we believe it takes energy and effort to do something with excellence, so what we teach, we call the core four. work hard do your best. never give up. be healthy.
6:48 pm
we think, if you do those things, whether learning a dance step, taking a math test or applying for a job, that's what it takes to be successful. >> reporter: this year's review for santa fe area schools is called broadway bound, celebrating the magic of musicals and show cases 500 children on one stage. along the way it weaves in life lessons about perseverance and teamwork. one scene recognizes each and every dancer. >> what we say to kids is there's this big spotlight and the light is shining and shining right in the center of the stage and it's their moment to go jump and fly through that spotlight. >> reporter: 13-year-old seventh grader laura balderama beams when she describes that moment. >> when each person gets the shot in the spotlight where they can show off and let everyone look at you, it's just awesome.
6:49 pm
you're shining and letting all your energy out and making people smile. it's pretty cool. >> reporter: the quest for excellence goes beyond the foot lights. new mexico's schools get low grades on national rating and in 2013 the state ranked dead last in the study that measured educational, economic, social, and physical well being of children. but the indi students are raising the bar with higher test scores in reading writing math and fitness, in a study commissioned by the organization comparing fourth through seventh graders in the same school district. 16-year-old emory is a case in point. she's been dancing since fourth grade. he lives with his grandfather, a retired auto mechanic who also cares, sometimes, for emory's 3-year-old niece. >> he's learned through the dance, you know, there's rules you have to abide by. so i think that's helped him.
6:50 pm
you know, and it will help him through life when he gets a job and starts working, he knows that they expect his full attention and his devotion to whatever profession he decides to get into. >> my grades before, they were moderate from cs to cs and ds, but now, with ndi, it's improved to bs and as in most classes. >> reporter: santa fe high school english teacher garcia described the impact she's seen in the classroom. >> confidence, participation in class discussion, critical thinking about characters in the plays and how they interact, and then writing about it. and he feels really competent to stand up and readout loud and to expect his feelings, with si is a tough kid for kids in ninth grade. >> reporter: the graduation rate at santa fe high is only
6:51 pm
62%. the latest state average which, in turn, is one of the lowest in the nation. >> you guys are good. >> reporter: santa fe's mayor thinks programs like this one will help stem the dropout crisis. >> we know the more kids are exposed the arts, the greater opportunity they have to stay in school, and we know if they stay in school, they will graduate. equally important, they open up their mind. science, technology, engineering, math is important, but we need to add arts to that and, when we add it, we create a citizen prepared to meet the world. >> reporter: back on stage, the cast includes more than just kids. at one point, classroom teachers and a handful of parents join in. among them was laura's dad who immigrated from mexico 12 years ago. >> really, it's very exciting to see people applaud you. it makes you feel like you did a good job. i don't know huh to say it, but it's really, for me, very gratifying to be here and it makes me feel very, very good.
6:52 pm
>> reporter: also in the company are some city of santa fe firefighters who know how to boogie. >> firefighters are heros, so we have six heros performing with kids. kids are looking up to these men and women and they're big and they're strong and these are young people that want to grow up and be big and strong and do something important. it's powerful. >> reporter: captain carlos got the bug for dancing from his daughters. >> they know what a commitment is now because the time they put into this and the hard work they put into this, they know what it's like to really commit to something. >> reporter: nava, like most parents of these children, said he couldn't afford tuition at a private dance academy. as the program celebrates its 20th anniversary, a few students have made it to bigger stages as professional dancers. but that's not the ultimate goal. >> whether they're bound for broadway, we don't know, but the
6:53 pm
idea is be bound for something. figure out what that is and work hard and do your best and don't give up until you get there. >> reporter: and that's a lesson that will stick with these young dancers long after the applause dies down and the curtain closes. ♪ >> ifill: we have more from the dancers online, where you can see their rendition of "fabulous feet" from the musical "the tap dance kid." >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day. president obama promised to fix what's wrong at veterans affairs hospitals, and to hold people accountable. the president also notified congress that 80 u.s. troops have deployed to chad, to help hunt for those kidnapped school girls in neighboring nigeria. and general motors added another 218,000 cars to it's long list
6:54 pm
of recalls this year. >> ifill: on the newshour online right now, why is the kitchen on the international stocked with hot sauce? because your taste buds change in zero gravity and the sting of tabasco can make a meal, according to some astronauts we talked to. read what else they crave in space, that's on our science page. all that and more is on our web site, >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on thursday, former treasury secretary timothy geithner on the banking bailout, the housing market bust and financial regulatory reform. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill, we'll see you on-line. and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> when i was pregnant, i got more advice than i knew what to
6:55 pm
do with. what i needed was information i could trust, on how to take care of me and my baby. united healthcare has a simple program that helps moms stay on track with their doctors and get care and guidance they can use before and after the baby is born. simple is what i need right now. >> that's health in numbers, united healthcare >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions
6:56 pm
and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh 
6:57 pm
6:58 pm
6:59 pm
7:00 pm
this is "nightly business report," with tyler mathisen and susie gharib. brought to you in part by. >>, featuring herb greenberg who remindings investors that risks real, with the reality check, resurging stocks in terms of risk, you can learn more at check. and federal reserve officials lay the ground work for raising interest rates. but they also talked about another topic at their last meeting that could prove even more important to the economy. target's transformation, a data breach and now its ceo, what is the interim chief executive planning to do to attract shoppers and investors? and financial


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on